One of the first places I visited last year was Waiting Room. I was interested to know more about the birth of one of the nicest concept store in Taipei. I decided to reach them directly through Instagram, and one hour later I got a reply from Trix, the founder. We chat promptly, and set up a meeting date the next week. Friday, around 2 pm I joined him nearby the store where he had some quick business to finish. Then, we took a walk not far around to find a place to discuss how music shape his life and why building a community is important.

à Taipei : une discussion avec Trix, Waiting Room.

Interview & Photography Farade Nicolas

please listen to the music by clicking ()

Where did you grew up?
Trix: Taipei city, a place near Tien-mu, it’s a really mixed area, there’s some foreigner language schools over there so I think it showed a diverse atmosphere and vibe. I started to get into street dancing and skateboarding here at a young age. 

All your closet friends were skateboarding?
Trix: Yes, some of them, there were few skate shops, at that time people started to get into fashion way more, even if you weren’t into skateboarding, you'd still see people wearing those skate brands.

You were surrounded by all of that.
Trix: Yeah, kind of, but I’d say that probably my first big influence was my older brother. When I was a kid, he would bring lots of hip hop records home, so I was listening to some again and again... Later, during my Junior high years, me and my friends started to get into street dancing and skateboarding, many skate videos would use a lot of hip hop songs for their soundtrack. All these things just came together naturally.

Yes and you could see at that specific era of skateboarding most of the dudes were wearing baggy pants!
Trix: That’s true. Growing up, it was like a snowball effect, I kept digging and did more researches, my curiosity, and awareness around all those things rose.

Then you become naturally more picky because you understood what and why you were wearing certain type of clothes, what they could represent in term of Culture… Therefore I guess, back then it wasn’t that mix right? Like it is nowadays, I mean people who were the mohawk hairstyle didn’t listen to Rap music & vice versa… And since we are talking about music, do you remember what early memories you had listening to it?
Trix: Like I’ve said, I was into Hip Hop music at first, I was just listening what my brother collects. In my junior high, I remember my friend just borrow me a Nirvana’s album, and I was curious about playing instruments.

One day my dad said that his church were interesting to start a worship band and I could learn how to play If I wanted to, then I started going every week and got the opportunity to discover more musical genre like gospel, alternative rock and began to build my own records collection.

What kind of instruments did you play?
Trix: Guitar, Bass, Drums… stuff like that.

Next step was creating a band, I imagine.
Trix: Yes, but just on a lark. I was involved in a band around 2004, where I played guitar. A bit later I was playing drums in a second band, around 2006…

What kind of music you guys made?
Trix: In the first one it was mostly punk and hardcore music, in the second one we were just experimenting, just let it flow because we were listened to many kind of music.

Back in 2000’s, we were really into Punk music. From there I met a guy who self-organized a mail order records. He imported bunch of amazing music catalog from overseas, we were digging into his collection, unfortunately he shut down few years later. In some ways I think we start to realized more about these philosophy and ethic, it was inspiring. We thought about doing things independently, like self-organized shows, released album on our own label, made merchandise and flyers, stuff like that, just all by ourself.

Like the DIY ethic. What about the bands, you guys played mainly in Taipei?
Trix: Yes, we had opportunities, we were touring in Japan, Hong Kong and China from time to time but mostly in Taiwan!

Do you still play from time to time?
Trix: Everyone is busy now.

And you didn’t think about opening a Record Store instead?
Trix: Not really, but I started a label with friend at 2007; Called CNG Records (長腦筋唱片). At first we imported records, sold them online, like the guy I met. When we started the second band, we were thinking to operate in a different manner, we released our music and our friend’s band through the label, and aim to provide a label culture independently which didn’t exist here. 

We also self-organized shows through the label. When I went to army in 2008, I had plenty time to think, I aspired to create something for our friends and community. So when I left the army, we invited bands from Japan to do gigs with us and self-produced our first debut event in 2009. Nowadays you can see a lot of bands from Japan touring in Taipei, back then they weren’t many. 

Even know it super close from here?
Trix: Yes, because we got noticed by those Japanese friends, they were interesting in what we did in Taiwan and were curious and surprised. We maintained a solid relationship with them and shared our resources. We were the very first band that introduced Japanese musicians and label from Taiwan in recent years, we were truly appreciated!

I bet, must have been some exciting years for you guys. Can you tell me when Waiting Room happened?
Trix: It happened around the same time. When we released our music catalog and organized shows, I thought about creating a place where people could hang out, communicate face to face, it could be fantastic. I gathered some friends and without a lot money, nine people were involved in the making process. The rent became cheap. We opened Waiting Room in 2010 located in a second floor of an apartment with two rooms in Shi-da area. We arranged the living room into a shop and only opened on weekends!

Sounds nice, what’s the story behind the name Waiting Room?
Trix: The name came from a band called Fugazi, from Washington, DC. They had a great song called Waiting Room ().

What was the next chapter, after moving from the first place you had, was it difficult to find another space?
Trix: A little bit, but I had plenty of fun. When we moved out, everyone was a bit busy and we split out. I also had another side job, I was still practicing with the band. When I had time, I was looking for another location just by walking around or riding bike. I think it took almost two years to found this place. I visited around 30 to 40 places, took bunch of photos and back home, imagined what could it happened here or there. Honestly it was a really good experience. The most interesting part was the store we are now was next door of first space I checked two years ago! It was an old dude’s massage house here before.

Ha that’s a nice coincidence! But, did you had any specific ideas when you decided to bring Clothes, Books, Music, other stuff and gathered them all in one and unique space?
Trix: My ambition with Waiting Room was to build a space where could collide every type of people. I know most of us were into music but it’s not the only thing in life. People get inspire and shape themself in any way. I know I don’t want to built a certain type of store, I won’t. All the products we bring into the store has a similar atmosphere. The creative people, artists we gathered use their energy to create and express themselves in some way which could be a record, a book, or even operating a clothing brand or something else. You can feel it right, sincere, pure and beauty on those objects.

Totally. In Paris we had a few places similar to yours, what we are calling nowadays Concept Store. Was it totally new in Taipei when you opened Waiting Room and was it hard to educate your consumer in a way, to that new concept of doing business?
Trix: I think so. When we opened back then, this was totally new, most people were confused. For example, if you take a look at our music selection and if you are a consumer looking for records, well we don’t have much to propose, we don’t have much choices in term of clothing as well, so it is quite hard to define… When we opened the new location I was trying to find a balance. We also operate a live-streaming radio called Room Radio. We usually do it in-store, it’s an underground platform, right now we have like 3 to 5 programs a week with the same hosts and sometimes we would have friends as guests from overseas.


The clothes you’re selling aren’t easy to find, I mean you could get them on the web - like everything - but in a proper store you can’t get them everywhere, you have an excellent selection… 
Trix: I do really like the brands that we stocked. It’s not always about the money, those brands have a strong story behind it, it’s not just a t-shirt, I could say the same about music, sometimes it could inspire when you are digging further. So that’s the thing I want to share with our consumer, a valuable story, a Culture.

Yes and the fact that you can get pretty much everything with Internet nowadays, why bother going to a specific store to get your gears? I guess you have to bring something else, a full experience, like going to Waiting Room, that’s what I felt when I first came into your store, I went there because I couldn’t feel the same way anywhere else.
Trix: There’s good and bad side to all of it. People seems like they were interested on lots of things, but at the same time they are afraid of the “too many options”. Just look back our history. I think It’s human nature, sometimes it’s going to take a long time, we never know. However I am super open minded right now, I would just keep providing several type of contents, you’ll just have to pick, choose if you like or not, find your interest in all of that. That’s simple, I think sharing things you liked is not that hard, everybody can do it.

Period. What keeps you motivated? What’s the next step for Waiting Room.
Trix: As I’ve said earlier, all about the community. Keep inspiring, building, creating, gathering around with your friends then die alone, that’s what is all about.

Thanks Trix for your time!

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